In 1989 VW launched the Rallye Golf, a homologation special enabling their works rally team, Volkswagen Motorsport, to run in the WRC. Perhaps this would have been how their cars turned out – if the Germans hadn’t lost their bottle.
Okay, I guess that’s a little unfair. VW had to worry about things like customer longevity, getting kids in the back and flogging 5,000 of the buggers to us mere mortals before they could send their drivers out to race. But even so. Maybe if they’d put their rally cars together with a similar spec to Parmjit Bhambra’s here they might have fought off the Cosworths and won a few more stages.
Harsh? Maybe. But, as history records, they left the WRC the same year. Not returning until 2011, and even then it was in a pair of Skoda Fabias!
Still, the fact remains that the Rallye was the last ever gravel-stomping Golf and with its trademark flared box arches, rectangular headlights and four-wheel- drive, this hand-built, supercharged road-going monster has always been a holy grail motor for any VW nut. It’s certainly easy to see why Parm had always wanted one and why it took him ages to find this particularly clean Tornado Red example over four years ago.
Building the dream has been something of an ongoing project for that entire amount of time, a labour of love for both Parm and his brother Gurj. The only real problem has been doing the legend justice. You see, reinventing an absolute icon is hard enough, but when it happens to be VW Motorsport’s final 1990 swansong and the purists are keeping a
close eye, the pressure is really on. Still, Parm here is a VAG man through and through and it’s nice to see he’s given the car every bit of respect it deserves. Don’t think of it as messing with a classic, more making it leaner, stronger and more focused – the way it should have been in the first place.
Take the styling. The original VW design is pretty damn timeless, so Parm simply decided not to mess with that or the original colour, and rightly so. In fact, with the exception of the homemade motorsport polycarb windows and a cheeky drop on a combination of custom H&R coilovers and doughnut bags, the exterior remains just as VW intended – as bonkers as when it left the factory.
Of course some may argue that there is a subtle collection of classic mods like the Bonrath single wiper conversion, the debadged grille and the distinct lack of a rear wiper. But surely by now these can be regarded as standard equipment on any super-clean Mk2.
When it comes to the outside the wheel choice is probably the most important feature and, after going through multiple sets, Parm’s definitely hit the nail on the head here – no one can deny the motorsport pedigree of those sweet, and thoroughly old skool, Compomotive THs.
What’s plainly obvious is this project was always about giving the car the focused handling and power it could have, maybe should have had, in the first place. It’s certainly been given that, and then some. In all it feels like Parm and Gurj have taken the pristine body off for safe keeping, uprated absolutely everything underneath, then slipped it back on seamlessly. Classic styling and balls-out modern grunt – the best of both worlds.
If you couldn’t see through the windows at that sparse interior, you’d just think it’s a stanced old-skool Rallye, you’d have no idea what’s lurking under the bonnet. And what’s under there is pretty bloody special. The 1.8-litre capacity (that VW needed for homologation in the late 80s) remains, but the original 161bhp supercharged lump has given way for something a bit more modern – you’ll recognise it as the almighty 1.8T out of an Audi TT 225.
Now, I know for a fact this is one of he best engines in the entire universe because I have one myself (but yours never works – Ed). I also know what a complete bastard they can be to work on, so fair play to the fella for not only building a thoroughly tuned corker with all the bells and whistles – but doing it on his drive.
The more than healthy engine spec produces around 300bhp and that’s without the 140bhp shot of laughing gas – suffice to say this thing shifts! But even that’s not enough for Parm. An extra Audi S2 high power engine is currently being built to be shoe-horned in along with its Quattro drive train – that should be a little fruity to say the least.
The interior is equally track-focused. But then, even purists will admit the original 80s cabin was pretty naff and was somewhat mismatched to the dramatic exterior. Luckily the acres of black plastic are now gone and they’ve been replaced with, well, not a lot actually.
There’s a bonkers Kirkey bucket, an OMP steering wheel to hold on to and a six-point cage, just in case it ever goes wrong – that’s about it. There is of course the addition of one thing inside that grabs everyone’s attention and that’s the CAE Motorsport Shifter – a work of engineering art or what? Obviously these aren’t what you’d call cheap, they start at around 600 smackers. But there’s no denying it fits the theme perfectly – another modding masterstroke from Parm right there.
All in all it’s an extremely cool motor that could only come from someone with a wealth of VAG experience. No surprises that Parm has owned quite a few, from the VW and Audi camp over the years, including a ridiculously low, old-skool Jetta on OZ Saturns, an Audi S2 with plenty of turbo grunt and a whole collection of Golfs. There’s even been the odd stripped- out 911 making its way into the fold.
I guess this car is a culmination of the lot… Oh, and he’s not quite finished on it yet. We can’t wait until he has!
WANT A VW GOLF RALLYE TURBO?
Of course you do, but it’s not quite that easy. Of the 5,000 or so, all hand-built in Belgium, only 70 were officially imported into the UK. If you can actually find one, chances are it’ll be a left hooker or an aftermarket RHD-converted import and it will cost more than a pretty penny. Even back in the day the Rallye was nearly double the price of the base-spec GTi! Wowza.
So why didn’t the 4WD Rallye storm the WRC? Well, VW actually won the Group A Class WRC in 1986 in a Golf GTi, but the nail in the coffin for the rallying Golfs was the banning of the Group B championship. This meant other manufactures started concentrating on Group A and suddenly the Golfs were up against Integrales, Celica GT4s and Escort Cosworths – they never really stood a chance. The best the Rallye Golf could do in 1990 was a single third place. Still, it may not have won the rally but it soon won the hearts of every VW fan on the planet and, unless you’re Sébastien Loeb, that’s what’s really important.
OWNER: PARMJIT BHAMBRA
TECH SPEC: VW GOLF RALLYE TURBO
1.8-litre turbo 20V BAM engine (from Audi TT), hybrid K04 turbo, ported and polished head, Scat con-rods, lightened/balanced crank, ARP rod bolts and steel headgasket, uprated injectors, Bosch 044 fuel pump, MBE engine management, custom stainless steel exhaust and powder-coated Pace chargecooler system, coolant reservoir, intake manifold and head, Samco silicone hoses, reinforced engine sump, G60 intercooler and VR6 Corrado radiator, VR6 internals in G60 gearbox casing with VR6 clutch, 140bhp NOS kit.
8×17-inch Compomotive TH1780 alloys with 195/40×17 xxxxxx tyres, modified H&R coilovers, with donut air bags replacing helper springs, chassis notch, Brembo front callipers with 304mm SEAT Cupra discs and G60 discs/pads at rear, braided brake hoses, powder-coated suspension caps and Powerflex bushes throughout.
De-badged front grille, rolled/pulled arches, Bonrath single wiper, Porsche door handles, single door mirror with carbon RHS door mirror blank, HID headlights, rear wiper removed. Polycarbonate windows all round with sliders for fronts.
Kirkey lightweight seat with custom seat rail, flocked dash with under tray and centre console removed, 6-point OMP roll cage, 4-point harnesses, FIA 2000 fire extinguisher, Racetech gauges, OMP 320mm steering wheel with Porsche horn push, CAE motorsport shifter, carbon door cards using leather door pulls with carbon design stitching, sound deadening and headliner removed, iPod compatible 2-way intercom,
My parents for all their support over the years and my brother Gurj for all his technical help and ideas, Kundi brothers for the detailing work, cousins Hardip and the Westside boys, Sunny for freshening up the wheels, Thanks to my wonderful children Keerat, Jeevan, Daya and Rajni and last but not least my amazing wife Balkeet for all her help and support.
Words Midge Photos Kevve.Be